Comic-Con Open Registration Recap


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Wow, what a morning! The process of attaining Comic-Con badges has gone from a transaction to an epic journey. Much like Frodo and Sam across Middle-Earth, this journey is not for the faint of heart. It was an angst ridden morning for most but, for the most part, the Open Registration sale went as planned. With the exception of the Member ID site choking (due to traffic), the overall sale went quick and efficiently. Mental note: Make sure to have all your Member ID info and registration number recorded separately to avoid that mess in the future. Like years past, there were winners, losers, tears or joy, and the gnashing of teeth. In record time, Open Reg sold out in about an hour which is about 20 mins earlier than the previous year. Someone call Guinness! It looks like this will be the only sale- with no ‘resale’ happening later (In a future post I’ll discuss what options are left to get a pass). Going through the gauntlet of Open Reg has become a time honored tradition- one that is unparalleled by any convention. I know there are a lot of complaints about the lack of tickets available, but I have been very impressed with Comic-Con International this year. Sure the process is never perfect, but thanks to the Toucan Blog and their Twitter account, they’ve done a good job communicating and updating. Even with some frustrations, there seems to be less and less surprises each year- which given the complexity of the situation, is pretty awesome. It’s been worst before and every year it gets better. So congrats all that scored a badge and my sincere condolences to those that missed out. More posts coming soon in regards to hotels, parking, and more!

In this process, I wanted to pose two philospohical questions that I want you to answer below:

  • Question #1: Do you think Comic-Con should intentional make the Registration process simple but not easy? Should they create ‘hoops’ that weed out the casually curious and focuses on those that ‘really’ want to go. In other words, should CCI, craft the perfect system to make it simple and easy for all- thus allowing even more of the casually curious to compete for badges?
  • Question #2: Do you think it’s best for the current and future Comic-Con community to have a separate Pre and Open Registration? If there were no technical limitations (like crashing the site), would it be better to have a Fall Reg and Spring Reg (that anyone can do) and remove all the technical question of who qualifies for each sale?

Also, I joined Leonard and company for A Cup of Tea with an Englishman in San Diego to debrief the badge sale. Check it out:

I really loved interacting with you all during the sale. Thanks for putting up with my silly memes pre and post sale. I guess it’s my way of trying to relieve the stress. I know, I’m a weirdo 😉 Here they are below if you missed them:

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SDCC spinning-wheel

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The Waiting Dead

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And my Pre-Reg meme from last year…

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12 thoughts on “Comic-Con Open Registration Recap

  1. The open registration went smoothly all the people i know got the badges they wanted i finished off geeting my Preview Night badge that i wasn’t able to get during Preregistration! But the only thing i hope people do learn to not wait till last minute to wait to get their registration code!! It was funny to see people scramble!

    • True. Even with all the e-mails, posts, and tweets, still people wait till the last second. I guess it does allow for those fans that REALLY want to go to have an edge over the casually curious. Glad you got Preview Night though and thanks for commenting!

  2. The website went smoothly. No technical problems. But I do not like the random process of the waiting room. I feel like there could be something better. I think that the convention center does need to expand so more tickets can be purchased for all the people that want to go but missed out because of the randomness of the epic waiting room.

    • Thanks Megan for your thoughts. While we may not like the ‘randomizing’ the truth is, it has always been random since the badges were in high demand. Whenever you have hundreds of thousands of fans trying to purchase at the exact same time, the computer is still randomizing a majority of them. For instance, if this was a physical sale with a thousand of people showing up to a location at the exact same time, a physical person would still have to choose the order. CCI is just being honest with the fact that if it is already random and they will manage the efficiency of it. To your second point, expansion of the convention center won’t change anything. Even with a robust expansion, adding another 10, 20, 30k badges would just be a drop in the bucket of demand. The center would feel just as crowded (even more) and the badge experience would still sell out in record time. It only works if badge supply meets or exceeds demand- which with hundreds of thousand (if not a million) fans, that won’t happen anytime soon. They could also move the venue to a less desirable location, which would inevitably affect the chemistry of the show, thus creating less demand. No one would ultimately want a larger show but an inferior experience.

      Honestly, the trick would be to raise the ticket sale where the barrier of entry was higher. You either change it to where you can only buy 4 day badges ($200+) or the ticket process go up to make a 4 day experience $300 or $400 and beyond. I’d hate to think it would have to come to this but this would be one of the only ways to lower demand. Your thoughts?

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. The first time I joined the registration process was in 2013 when they still used the Hunger Games/first come first served version of the registration. Even though I got badges in 2013 but not a single one this time, I like that now everyone has the same chances to get badges. Deciding who is a “real” (SDCC) fan and who is not…let’s not even go there. See fake geek girl discussion 😉 Besides, everyone who is willing to go through this kind of registration process already earns a medal.

    Truth to be told, I have no idea how sorting people for pre and open registration works. Think I got an email last fall…
    Do all people who went to Comic Con during the last couple of years qualify for pre reg?

    • Petra, You question kind of reinforces the point of what I am posing- who qualifies for what and why? By making it a open reg two times a year, then not only do you help those that are not available for a particular day, but eliminate the confusion of qualification. With that being said, SDCC is no ordinary con and the fact that it takes a certain amount of planning and astuteness gives those that want it more an edge. I see a lot of people who just want to come to see what all the ‘hype’ is about- and I don’t mind disappointing them. But I am posing if this system SHOULD be broken on purpose? If everyone could go to Harvard they would- but the fact that it takes extremely hard work, an impressive transcript, interviewing well, recommendations, and more that make it the prestigious institute that it is. The idea of ‘broken on purpose’ is a real thing- and a legitimate and proven marketing strategy. So I’m wondering if it is right for Comic-Con. Thoughts?

      Thanks so much for your comment! And yes, Pre-Reg was ONLY for those that attended the 2014 show.

  4. We skipped Pre-Reg after attending in 2010 because we didn’t think we could afford the cross-country trip two summers in a row. It took us four years to get back. We didn’t take that chance this time and secured our 2015 passes in Pre-Reg. I’d hate to see it go away.

    I do wonder if perhaps there were tweaks they could make to the system however. Maybe make qualification for Pre-Reg a one-time registration code good for use over a two-year period. That way, people that can’t afford the trip every summer still get some benefit as a returning customer and it also spreads out the Pre-Reg demand, at least somewhat.

    • Steve, That’s great that you are returning after 4 years. I think you will find that it has gotten even bigger since 2010. Interesting idea with the 2 year verification. That would seem to help those that travel long distances or internationally. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Sorry, I wasn’t clear. We were back in 2014 for the first time since 2010… and you are 100 percent correct, it grew tremendously. So we’re really excited to be back again in 2015.

    But as you noted, I really do think the 2-year window to use your Pre-Reg benefit would be a great benefit to East Coasters like myself or the international crowd.

    Thanks.

  6. I can’t help but feel SDCC made the registration worse somehow. I believe 2010 was the last time they had on-site pre-reg sales in Sails Pavilion, correct? I remember waiting just 15 minutes on Sunday afternoon to get next year’s badge. Then, the following year, they moved it to 8am at the Marriott, and suddenly, people panicked and waited in the dark of night to get tickets. I was in line for about 4-5 hours to get tickets. And the whole time, I’m thinking, did demand really skyrocket between one year to the next? Or did SDCC just give the sense of increased demand?

    I really don’t like the randomization aspect. The past two years, my ID has never gotten through in pre-reg or reg (but fortunately, IDs from my network of friends have, so I’ve been able to get a badge). I still wish they would bring back on-site registration.

  7. I honestly don’t think CCI can make a “perfect system” when it comes to selling these badges. Opinions will always be split between those who’ve previously attended and those who want to experience it for the first time. There will always be competition to get them because the demand exceeds the inventory. As far as Pre/Open Registration is concerned, I haven’t seen that as an issue. I not having pre-registration on site because it takes away from the time one should actually be spending enjoying the Con. But those of us who’ve gone for years will go to any length to make sure we can return for the next one. Some friends have voiced dislike over the randomization in the waiting room, while I felt that being given a number made me more anxious during the registration process. To each their own.

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